Barefoot and Blue No More: Breaking Taboos One Bump at a Time
The year was 1991. The August issue of Vanity Fair had just hit the newsstands. Gracing the glossy cover of the popular American magazine was a heavily pregnant Demi Moore looking radiantly confidant and unapologetic about flaunting her baby bump. At a time when pregnancy photo shoots were still unheard of, Moore’s hand-bra nude photograph in the seventh month of her pregnancy raised quite a few eyebrows. Photographed by Annie Liebowitz, the picture aimed to celebrate motherhood and drive home the face that even a pregnant female body could look sexy and glamourous. Though resembling Renaissance painter Botticelli’s classic painting The Birth of Venus in style and treatment, the image made many uncomfortable, and critics called the cover ‘grotesque and obscene’. On Moore’s part, she defended her photograph, which she considered a ‘healthy feminist statement’. In an interview to Houston Chronicle, Moore stated that ‘I did feel glamorous, beautiful and more free about my body. I don’t know how much more family oriented I could possibly have gotten.’
The disapproval died down quickly enough. Titled ‘More Demi Moore’, the cover, in fact, has had a long social and cultural impact in the US. Regarded as one of the best US magazine covers ever by the American Society of Magazine Editors, the work is undoubtedly path-breaking and clearly Liebowitz’s most noted one. The photograph went on to gain iconic status and did its part in viewing public representation of pregnancy as socially acceptable. Other Hollywood celebrities followed Moore’s footsteps. Soon, there was a deluge of stars posing for magazine covers in advanced stages of pregnancy, which has made pregnancy photos fashionable and created a profitable business for photographers dabbling in baby-bump photography. Other magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar have since featured heavily pregnant women on their celebrated covers. From Monica Bellucci, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Katie Holmes, Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman to Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jennie Garth, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Sofia Coppola. The most recent addition to the “Bump Brigade” was pop sensation Beyonce pushing the concept a notch more posing with daughter Blue Ivy by her side and literally taking the plunge with an underwater maternity photo shoot. Since Demi Moore first appeared on the 1991 August cover of Vanity Fair more than two decades ago, these yummy mummies are shattering the barefoot-and-blue stereotype one bump at a time and how!
And while internationally baby-bump shoots are already a raging trend, closer home in India the trend is fast catching up too. True that some of the earlier actresses like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty and Rani Mukherjee shied away from making public appearances during pregnancy, the new breed of mommylicious celebs are more than happy to pose for the shutterbugs when the bun is in the oven. From the silver screen stars to telly queens, everyone wants to freeze these first burst of motherhood for eternity. From Tara Sharma to Kareena Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma to Carol Gracious and Lisa Haydon to Shweta Salve and Shweta Tiwari, the to-be moms are slaying age-old notions and stepping out in style. From walking the ramp to posing for glamourous photo shoots to donning magazine covers, these women are doing it all. And are breaking some taboos about the pregnant female body along the way. Talk about sensitizing the public in style.
With such images of pregnant celebs becoming a common feature in the mainstream media, the business of documenting pregnancies photographically has boomed. Ordinary women are now more accepting of the trend and are often going in for high-end maternity photo shoots to capture their moments of blissful motherhood. Often such shoots also include partners, husbands, friends, families, older kids and even paws and other pets.
And why not? If we celebrate motherhood, then why shy away from celebrating the most prominent marker of motherhood – the baby bump? And while we are at it, we have Demi Moore to thank for normalizing the trend and bringing it in vogue. So all you to-be mums, go ahead and flaunt that bump.